Volunteer Stories

From the Heart…

I worked as a scheduler for a Home Support Agency where Home Support Workers would go into the homes helping people with their care and maintaining their independence. During this time, there was a new program brought in called the Palliative Program where the Home Support Workers would go into the homes of terminally ill patients again helping them stay in their homes with the help of trained workers and nurses. I would listen to the worker’s heartwarming stories, sad and happy, and decided I would like to do something in that field when I retired. I started volunteering with Langley Hospice Society in the office. Having that experience with hospice helped me make up my mind to take the hospice basic training course. I did so at the start for personal reasons but then after listening to other volunteers talking about their experiences at the Residence I asked to be a volunteer. I have never before been so privileged as to be a part of such a lovely experience. I was very nervous at...

A Spiritual Journey of the Heart and Soul

“The source of love is deep in us and we can help others realize a lot of happiness. One word, one action, one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh If you are familiar with the Langley Hospice Society, there is a strong possibility that you have also heard of Thornton Smith. As one of our esteemed volunteers of the past fifteen years, Thornton has participated in and supported a variety of services and events. From serving as a past treasurer of our Board of Directors, to providing support in palliative and bereavement settings, and more recently, participating in the creation of our beautiful children’s garden – it is not exaggerating to state that Thornton has done it all. Thornton attributes his interest in volunteering to when he first began to lend his support at a residential home for the physically disabled in England. After he moved to Canada and created a lovely family, Thornton began to serve on our Board of Directors...

Musical Interludes at the Hospice Residence

My name is Paul Helliwell-Hargreaves and I am 64 years old. I have been volunteering for Langley Hospice Society at Langley Hospice Residence as a musician for a good part of a year. I play an acoustic guitar and sing songs like ballads, folk, western, rock, old time, and gospel. If you are familiar with the Hospice Residence, I play by the memorial table in front of the nurses’ station. The acoustics are so good the sound carries to the end of the corridor. If anyone wants me to play in their room, then I will. I’ve had no formal training dealing with death in the Hospice but for 12 years I did volunteer at Delta View SCU playing for residents with dementia. My uncle/godfather, a resident, eventually died there. I was asked to play for an elderly gentleman and his family, and was asked if I knew “The Red River Valley “(a favourite western song of the gentleman’s). Quite often when I’m singing I don’t really listen to the words, but this time the importance of the words impacted us...

Volunteering Magic

I have had the opportunity to volunteer as a cabin counselor for teen girls for two years now. I have learned so many things, and seen such strength and wisdom come from such young minds. Camp brings so much joy through activities such as: honoring a loved one who is gone through art, discussion, and games; camp-wide water balloon fights; singing songs beneath the stars; worst-dressed competitions; and hiking.  There are many more moments that will be in the memory of these children and teens (and the volunteers) for a long time to come. It amazes me to see children and teens who have endured a great loss be able to manage to come together and allow emotions to flow, while still having fun.  These youth understand each other, as one never has to tell someone when to respect others. Because it is all understood without a word being said. Thank you for letting me be a part of Camp Chrysalis, where magic seems to happen. April Holland Camp Chrysalis Volunteer

Why I Volunteer With Langley Hospice’s Child and Youth Program

I began helping out at Langley Hospice three years ago to gain some volunteering experience before I applied for university. I was fairly young at the time, about age 16. I am now in university, well into my degree, but I continue to volunteer for a variety of reasons. Working with the kids who are experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Children are extremely dependent on their caregivers for survival, so when one or both of those caregivers dies the children are put in a difficult state. Children are supposed to laugh, play, and not have many stressors in their lives. They shouldn’t have to worry about not having a mom to brush their hair before school or future worries like not having a dad to walk them down to isle when they get married.   All of these worries, emotions, and stressors can be extremely taxing on an adult, let alone a young child or early teen. Adults need support with their struggles and emotions...

My First Year at Hospice

After having spent a year as a volunteer at our Langley Hospice Residence, I have been contemplating what this year has meant to me; what I have learned, and what I have been able to give.  I believe my hospice work actually started two years ago as I sat with my own mother at a hospice in Regina. It was then that I decided this was where I would volunteer. In the past I have served on numerous boards and committees. From all of them I have learned a tremendous amount, and worked with very dedicated, knowledgeable, and community minded people. So why is this different for me?  I am now privileged to be on a different journey. This is a journey where those we meet even for so short a time, need so little from us but give us so much. It is where simple things are important, like a cup of tea with a lady who just smiles and touches your hand. It is a hug, without words, or an opportunity to listen to a family’s story about their loved one. It is giving a grieving family time, care and...

Langley Hospice Residence: One Volunteer’s Experience

Upon the table a small light was on and gently flickering as I entered the building. I approached the table to read the writing upon the card in front of the light. As I came closer I could see a young woman standing in the hall, her body pressed against the rail. She was trembling, her hands pressed to her mouth, with tears falling upon her cheeks. I moved towards her, my purse still over my shoulder, and extended my arms to her. We both took a step towards each other and my arms encircled her. No words were spoken as she put her head upon my shoulder and I held her close. Time passed, her tears subsided and she stood back. She was composed as she spoke only two words, “thank you”. So what building is this? What do the light and the card represent? Why was this young woman crying? I have entered a Hospice Residence. In direct line with the outside door is a table where the small light is encased within a stained glass stand. This light is turned on for twenty-four hours to honour...

Volunteering at the Langley Hospice Society

Recently, I worked for several years in retail; I was good at it, but I found that the work had little meaning for me. I wanted my efforts to be purposeful. Before I had my kids, I worked as an administrative assistant for a non-profit organization. There I felt needed, an equal part of a team working to help others. I wanted to do so again. I went back to school to update my skills and, needing current office experience, I started looking for volunteer opportunities. I found just what I needed; the Langley Hospice Society, a non-profit organization that uses volunteers in its office. I was immediately impressed by the inclusiveness shown on the volunteer application form as it made clear that any applicant from any background would be considered. My kind of place! So here I am, again a part of a team, warmly welcomed by people who share my values, working together to help those who need us. Heather Frenette Supportive Programs Centre Office Volunteer

One Hospice Volunteer’s Viewpoint

I've been working as a hospice volunteer now since December, 2007. It was a choice that surprised many of my family and friends - my youngest son even said, "Mum, you won't be able to do that - you're too emotional"! But, that's what I'm doing, and I love it. It all started with my own grieving process ten years ago. My Dad, a vital, intelligent man, was struck down by a stroke during heart surgery. For three months he lingered in hospitals, while the family watched his body and mind slowly shut down. We felt helpless - unable to understand what was happening, unable to assist our father in his final leave-taking. The nursing staff was always changing. No one gave us the information we needed and we were unaware that hospice support existed. Nothing would have made my father's death easier to accept, but knowledge and support could have made his passage less fearful for him and less agonizing for us. After that experience, and ever since I learned hospice care services existed, I had...

Musings of a Volunteer at Langley Hospice Residence

“What made you volunteer for Hospice?” “Don't you find it sad being around the dying?” How many of us have had these and many other questions like them posed when people find out that you are a volunteer at Langley Hospice? My journey as a volunteer has been one of personal discovery, growth and challenge. I remember during my initial training, as I listened to Fernande and the other presenters, I would look for the key to unlock what was expected of me. I thought that once I learnt “how to be a good volunteer” all would be well. I initially felt frustrated at our weekly sessions as I tried to analyze and second-guess the process. But as the training progressed, I found that there is no key, in fact there is no lock, other than the one that I wrap my heart in. I needed to let go and listen; not easy for me. Each week as the training continued I would ask myself “Why am I here?” The answer that came back was: “because you want to be; be patient and listen”. I am a stubborn person, but...

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